Word War: Byrne keeps up attack on Cobb Chamber
by Joe Kirby, Otis A. Brumby III and Lee B. Garrett, - Around Town Columnists
May 06, 2014 04:00 AM | 7352 views | 6 6 comments | 94 94 recommendations | email to a friend | print
THE MOST DANGEROUS PLACE in Cobb these days is arguably anywhere between Cobb Commission candidate Bill Byrne and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

You’ll recall Chamber Chairman Ben Mathis said last week that District 1 Commission candidate Byrne should apologize for his recent comments about the Chamber, which were prompted by the fact that several of its ranking members helped sponsor a campaign fundraiser for another District 1 candidate, Bob Weatherford.

Byrne’s response to that request for an apology? In so many words, “Don’t hold your breath.”

“I don’t think I have ever been asked to apologize for telling the truth before!!!” he wrote to Around Town.

Mathis, Chamber President David Connell and what Byrne called “a who’s who” of Chamber brass past and present — including such figures as former Chairmen Rob Garcia, Greg Morgan and Sam Kelly — paid up to $2,500 per person to help sponsor the April 7 event for Weatherford at the swank Georgian Club. Byrne said in retaliation that if elected, he would not take part in any Chamber-sponsored event, “now or in the future,” prompting Mathis to write via a letter to the editor of the MDJ that “the threat of retaliation against private citizens by someone seeking government office simply is wrong.”

“Such shrill talk of retribution and harsh, anti-business sentiment are far beyond typical political hyperbole one expects from a candidate seeking public office in Cobb County,” Mathis added.

Answers Byrne to that: “These people have the right to support any candidate they choose to support. However, to deny that they are not just does not make sense and to take me to participate in their political process is unrealistic. … It is time for west Cobb voters to begin the process of taking back our county and preserving the quality of life we enjoy before special interest groups take it away.”


BYRNE also takes issue with Saturday’s Around Town account of his comments at last week’s Cobb GOP Women-sponsored candidate forum. The column noted Byrne had bent over backward in his remarks to say nice things about incumbent District 1 Commissioner Helen Goreham, in sharp contrast to their history of feuding.

Byrne described the story to Around Town on Monday as “a ‘hit piece!’”


ALL RISE: Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary E. Staley has been elected president of the Council of Superior Court Judges of Georgia for a one-year term running through next April. The Council consists of the state’s 209 Superior Court judges and 70-plus senior (retired) Superior Court judges. Staley has served on the Cobb Superior Court bench since 1992 and is also presiding judge of the Cobb Superior Court Mental Health Court.


A PORTRAIT of late Cobb State Court Judge Ken Nix will be dedicated at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Courtroom 200 of the Superior Court Building. Speakers will include Judge Kent Lawrence of Athens, the Rev. Gil Watson of Northside United Methodist Church and syndicated MDJ columnist Dick Yarbrough.


IT’S “LAST ROUNDUP” TIME tonight for candidates for several congressional, state legislative, county commission and school board races when they face off at the Kennesaw Business Association’s candidate forum tonight. Organizers expect a full house (approximately 250 people) at the Robertson Community Center in Kennesaw tonight, which is believed to be the last scheduled high-profile political forum prior to the May 20 party primaries.

All six candidates for the 11th District congressional district (Bob Barr, Allan Levene, Ed Lindsey, Barry Loudermilk, Larry Mrozinski and Tricia Pridemore) are slated to be on hand, as are all five candidates for northwest Cobb Commission District 1 (Angela Barner, Byrne, Democrat Derrick Crump, Glenn Melson, Scott Tucker and Weatherford) and Cobb Board of Education Post 4 (David Chastain and Bill Scott).

Two of the three candidates for northeast Cobb Commission District 3 will be on hand, Michael Opitz and Joseph Pond. But incumbent Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, who missed Tuesday’s Cobb Republican Women-sponsored forum in order to help her mother celebrate her birthday, will miss tonight’s forum as well. She’ll be speaking instead at the Cobb Young Republicans dinner, an event she had already committed to prior to the KBA invitation, KBA spokesman John Loud told Around Town.

Also featured will be both candidates for state House District 34, incumbent Charles Gregory and challenger Bert Reeves. Gregory, who did not attend the CRW forum for House candidates two weeks ago, committed over the weekend to take part in tonight’s forum, Loud said.

WSB Radio newscaster Pete Combs will be moderating.

The forum starts at 6:30 p.m. and is slated to end at 9.


MORE POLITICS: Madison Forum president Mike Opitz, who is running for the District 3 Commission seat, disclaims the MDJ’s editorial description last week of him as a “tea partier.” Opitz says the Forum is non-partisan and he is “just a Republican.” … State Rep. David Wilkerson (D-Austell) will hold a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Shaw Temple AME Zion Church on Hurt Road in Smyrna. He’s also inviting the public to his annual neighborhood cookout at Hurt Road Park from 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday. To RSVP, call Penny at (770) 436-7241.


HOLLYWOOD ACTRESS Julia Roberts was back in Smyrna, her hometown, over the weekend for a Saturday graveside service for her half-sister, Nancy Motes, 37, who died in February from an apparent drug overdose. “Pretty Woman” star Roberts, 46, and her sister had long been estranged. Motes had reportedly battled weight and self-esteem issues for much of her life, and according to U.K. Daily Mail, had tweeted shortly before her death that “America’s Sweetheart is a B*tch.” Motes was just 13 at the time Roberts’ star turn as a high-priced call girl in “Pretty Woman” catapulted her from A-list actress to the Hollywood stratosphere.

Roberts arrived at the service in the company of her mother, Betty Lou Roberts, and sister, Lisa Roberts, and briefly addressed those gathered.

Ms. Motes was buried in a family plot in New Smyrna Cemetery next to two relatives. The cemetery, off Hawthorne Avenue east of Atlanta Road and not far from downtown Smyrna, was described by the Mail as “remote and idyllic.” The story also reports the outdoor service took place in the “blazing Georgia heat” — a day on which the mercury edged just past the 80-degree mark.

Roberts and her siblings grew up in Smyrna, where she graduated from Campbell High School. Roberts’ mother later divorced her father and married Michael Motes. Motes, a former antiques dealer and Marietta resident, discussed with then-Mayor Joe Mack Wilson donating his substantial collection of “Gone With the Wind” memorabilia to The Marietta Museum of History in the mid-1990s. The talks led nowhere, and the city later opened a “Gone With the Wind” museum built around another collection.

Motes is not believed to have attended the service for his daughter, The Mail reports. Roberts’ actor brother, Eric Roberts, who was long estranged from his more-famous sister but has since made up, is also not thought to have attended.


11TH DISTRICT congressional hopeful Tricia Pridemore attended the Congressional Club’s First Ladies Luncheon in Washington, D.C., last week and toured The White House on Friday. Her traveling companions included Kim Gresh of SA White Oil, Cassandra Buckalew of the Historic Marietta Trolley Co., Cassy Ferrell of Vinings Bank, Angela Shipp of Cobb EMC and April Wright of 524 Creative.


THE CITY OF MARIETTA is looking for World War II veterans to take part in the July Fourth Parade. The Georgia Military Vehicle Preservation Association will provide a military vehicle, but the veterans will have to be able to get themselves in and out of it. For more info, call Maggi Moss at City Hall at (770) 794-5609. BTW, the city is still taking applications for the parade. The deadline to apply is May 30. Call (770) 794-5601.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Chamber Member
May 14, 2014
The Cobb Chamber is a business organization that focuses on improving our county by growing jobs, opportunity and the economy. They are made up by member businesses who in turn, direct their activities. They only serve to make this community better and for me and my business they have.
May 30, 2014
If I were a Business, I would agree with you.

However, I am not a Business and like the County fine as it is, or even better, as it was.
Byrne the divider
May 14, 2014
The Cobb Chamber does many good things in this community for small businesses, public safety, our schools, non-profits, leadership cobb, business associations and much more. To refuse to work with them or any other association that helps our community shows that Byrne would be a disastrous leader and should not be elected. A leader should bring ALL partners together, not divide them.
May 07, 2014
The Cobb Chamber of Commerce is to Cobb County what the Mafia was to Chicago in the 1920s.
West Cobb Voters
May 06, 2014
The Cobb Chamber of Commerce has made no secret about their desire to control the Cobb County Commission.

Any candidate who is for common sense, demonstrates an independent streak, and will question some of the crazy ideas promoted to empty the pocketbook of homeowners (TSPLOST, HOST tax, New Bus tax, Rain Tax, etc) they will end up on the Chamber's 'hit list'.

The result: Top chamber members believe they can buy the commission seat away from the voters. About right now, I bet the Chamber is having buyers remorse.
May 06, 2014
Yes. The chamber of commerce/crony capitalist/rino establishment is fighting hard against anyone who talks about common sense, fiscal restraint and limited government. They would almost be a joke except that the harm they are doing to our community--thru their thievery/tax and spend big government ideas/projects/candidates/cronies --- is so serious.

Cobb voters will do themselves a favor by doing the exact opposite of anything the chamber/rino establishment supports.
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